Graham Potter press conference: N'Golo Kante injury, Thiago Silva contract, Rafael Leao interest

Jamie Spencer
Graham Potter spoke ahead of facing AC Milan in the Champions League
Graham Potter spoke ahead of facing AC Milan in the Champions League / ADRIAN DENNIS/GettyImages

Chelsea have travelled to Italy this week for their Champions League group stage clash with AC Milan, having comfortably beaten the Rossoneri last week in what was actually a first European win of the season for Graham Potter’s side.

Since then, Chelsea have built on their growing momentum with a Premier League victory over Wolves in which Potter made a number of changes to rest players.

Another win is vital for Chelsea in a tight Group E where top and bottom are separated by just two points halfway through the group stage.

Read on for the key parts of Potter’s pre-match press conference…

Team news vs AC Milan

Why did N’Golo Kante & Hakim Ziyech not travel?

“Hakim is ill, and N'Golo we're just waiting on. He had a reaction in training. So we're just waiting for the news of that. Hakim's got a sore throat, so that's why he didn't travel.

“[The Kante situation is] not ideal, and it is disappointing for him and us. So we have to wait and see the extent of it and go from there.

“Everyone [else] is available [apart from Wesley Fofana]. The fact we could rotate a few [against Wolves] has probably helped us in terms of availability for this game and, hopefully, a bit of freshness. We're going to need that because it's going to be a physically demanding game.”

Thiago Silva

How is Thiago Silva's illness?

"He was okay when we played AC Milan, but he just got a little bit worse as the week went on. In the end, because there were only two days between the games, it didn't make sense to play him again. But he's recovered well."

How impressed have you been with him overall?

“He's been incredibly impressive on and off the pitch. He is a leader. He's a top professional and a top person. He's been again a joy to work with.”

How long can he keep playing at the highest level?

“I think the decision is Thiago's. I've been here three or four weeks. I see his qualities. He's an incredible person, incredible player. The level he can play at, the performance level he can reach, and the respect he has through the game is just incredible.

“All I can do is try and help him enjoy his football here, be part of a winning team and all of the rest is something for him and the club to think about.”

Facing AC Milan

Would winning at San Siro be a statement win?

"That's our challenge. That's what we have to try to do. It is an incredible place here, and it will be a completely different game.

“AC Milan will try to use the home advantage as we did last week. It is two good teams, two evenly-matched teams. So it will be a fantastic game, and I'm looking forward to it.”

Will Chelsea use the same formation as last week’s 3-0 win?

“I won't tell you about how we're going to line up! But we're happy with the options that we have that's for sure. We're expecting a really tough game, AC Milan have a lot of good players and a strong team.”

Rafael Leao

What do you think of Rafael Leao after seeing him play last week?

"The player you mentioned is part of that team. You can see his quality and what he brings. He's part of a strong team, a strong club and a strong set-up, and we respect that.”

Team confidence

How much confidence has three wins in a row brought to the team?

“As I used to say at Brighton, wins are the best way to convince people that your ideas can work, and it is only a short time. So I'm not getting carried away.

“Wins help, but it's about getting to know the players and the process. But we all know that we need to win as well. So it was a good week, but it was only a week.”

Enock Mwepu

How disappointed are you to see your former player Enock Mwepu forced to retire?

“Really terrible, but thankfully, it isn't as terrible as it maybe could've been because I think he has been as lucky as he can be in the sense that he is alive and well.

“That is something we're really thankful for. But at 24 years old, to not be able to play football puts everything in perspective. I tried calling him today – I sent him a message – he is a fantastic person, and whatever he does, he will succeed in his life. But it's a shame we won't see him on the pitch.”